They lived together, they loved together. And after four children and 72 years of marriage, the two passed on holding hands. This is Norma and Gordon Yeager's remarkable story of love in a time when few people seem to understand what it means to say "til death do us part."
Norma Stock had only just graduated high school when she accepted Gordon Yeager's marriage proposal. The couple got married in Iowa on a spring day in 1939. Their marriage soon brought them children -- four to be exact. Through the hardships and joys of life, they remained together.
The way their children tell it, Gordon was the life of the party and Norma was his rock. In the 72 years that the couple were married, Norma rarely left Gordon's side.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski.
"They just loved being together," their son Dennis Yeager told KCCI. He related how his father would often tell him in his later years, "I have to stick around. I can't go until she does because I have to stay here for her." His mother, Yeager told the news crew, would often say the same thing.
As with every other aspect of their lives, Norma and Gordon passed on together, holding hands.
The couple, which was in a car accident outside of Marshalltown last Wednesday, had been moved to the intensive care unit of Marshalltown's hospital. The nurses who attended them kept them side by side.
Gordon, 94, died at 3:38PM holding hands with his wife, with their family around them.
"It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going," said Dennis Yeager. "But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat? The nurse checked and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up."
Exactly one hour after Gordon died, Norma passed too. She was 90.
"Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other," their daughter Donna Sheets said.
At their funeral on Monday, Norma and Gordon were still holding hands. Their family plans to cremate them and mixing their ashes, preserving their memory as a couple who never gave up on each other, a couple that was in it for the long-haul.
Something entirely too rare these days.